The Australian government has unveiled new rules that will make it much harder to become a naturalized citizen of the country if adopted.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Thursday proposed the new measures, which include having would-be citizens to live in the country for at least four years before qualifying for naturalization. Currently immigrants are eligible to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residency.
Applicants will also be required to speak English fluently and conform to “Australian values”.
PM Turnbull says a more rigorous English test is beneficial for both the immigrants and the country. “I mean, does anybody doubt that if you want to succeed, if you want to even have a chance of succeeding in Australia, you need to be able to speak English?,” asked Prime Minister Turnbull in making the announcement.
To test would-be citizens for Australian values, the applicants will be asked questions such as whether they believe in genital mutilation, polygamy, forced marriages for children, and in girls’ education.
Applicants with history of domestic violence will be ineligible to become citizens. "If you want to beat up your wife, you can't become a citizen of this nation,” said Senator Nick Xenophon who supports the proposed rules.
Would-be citizens will also need to provide evidence that they have integrated into the community. Such evidence will include things such as membership in community organizations, employment history, or school enrollment.
Additionally, applicants will only have three attempts to pass the citizenship test. Those who fail after the third attempt will be disqualified from naturalization.
The government says the new measures are meant to ensure immigrants are better integrated to the community.
The new rules will need to be approved by Parliament to take effect.
About 30% of Australia’s population, which currently stands at 24 million, is foreign born.